Horace Grant lifted the bottle of clear liquid to his lips and took a swig. He let out a gargled rasp of pain and placed it back on his bedside table. Horace rolled over in his thin, stained sheets, and cussed at the strips of light seeping through the curtains. He reached for his head and rubbed his sunken face with open palms. Something about a dream last night, watching men in hazmat suites raid his neighborhood. He seemed to remember it vaguely, something about a toxic fog. In his old age, falling asleep in front of the TV has left him with strange dreams.
“Fuck this day, and fuck absinthe.” He groaned, and slid himself off the edge of his bed into a pair of filthy brown slippers. Wavering slightly he looked down at his toe, which poked out of a hole in the top of his left loafer.
“Good morning, dear. Now make me some fucking eggs.” He frowned, reached for his bottle, and kissed it.
Horace stumbled down his dark hallway, whose lightbulbs from 1986 still hung grimy and cracked from the peeling ceiling, into the bathroom. Horace ran his calloused hands through thinning white hair, and blew his nose into his shirt before brushing a dwindling set of yellow teeth and shuffling into the kitchen.
In a discolored frying pan he cooks an egg, breaks green fuzz of of a slice of bread, and sits himself in the recliner in front of the TV in the other room. The other room used to be called “the family room” before his whore wife ran off with the damn Chinese mailman.
“Good for you, babe,” he said, raising his bread and egg up to an old wedding photo on the mantel, “Hope 'e wasn' named Jeff Hung for nothin'.” He chucked his breakfast over at the picture and missed, splattering yolk all down the back of the TV.
Grey Fuzz wailed on every channel Horace clicked through on his remote.
The fuzz on the TV growing louder with each click, making him grind his teeth. He smelled something familiar: burning wire. It reminded him of his dream last night, thick red smog that crept over his bed, slithered into his brain through holes in this throat. It reminded him of reverse postnasal drip, and tickled the back of his tongue.
“Fuck it,” he said and let out a wet, strangled cough. His hands fell from his mouth, and Horace looked down to three brown teeth splattered with dark drool.
“What the fu—” he began before retching a wave of black sludge onto his lap. He heaved again, yanking violently on the Slee-P-Boi reclining handle with weak fingers that slipped on the wooden crank. Throwing himself forward, he caught his breath, dripping heavy goo onto the floor. With drunk, shaking knees he stumbled his way to the hallway, grabbing blindly for the doorway. Stinging tears were flooding his eyes, but they too seemed black and heavy. Horace stood, clutching his doorframe for a moment, his breath humid in his lungs. He was going blind. His tears, the same bile that just projected itself from his stomach, were sticking to his eyelashes, swallowing his vision, before trapping him in darkness.
Help, he tried to yell, but his tongue was too thick to get any distinct sound out from his lips. His body gave way, dropping him hard onto the floor chin-first. Trying to use the last of his strength to drag himself toward the front door. He tightened the muscles in his throat and forehead, clawing at the carpet.
Which way is the door? What does the door look like? What am I doing?
It was leaving him, his memory, his mind, it too had purged itself from his body, and Horace was finally and truly alone when he heard it. The front door opened, and a round, pink voice filled the hallow hallway,
Who is Dad?
“Dad are you sleeping?”
Dad's not home.
“I'm coming in! We have to leave the city, now!”
Come in. I'm hungry.
Horace pulled himself from the floor, his blind eyes stuck open, his broken jaw drooling. He took a heavy step toward the hallway. He clung to the doorframe, waiting for the voice to come closer.
“Dad?” the voice said, feet away, just around the corner.
He lashed out in front of him as the sound of footsteps rounded into the living room. His knuckles cracked around something warm and soft, a neck or a wrist, and fit pulsed frantically under his grip. He thrust himself and the voice into the hallway. He squeezed, and his hand locked in position too easily. The fuzz on the TV screamed in the other room. It screamed until it sounded hoarse and raw in his ears, and he had to beat the sound down with vicious blows to its head.